Education as Change - Volume 12, Issue 1, 2008
Volume 12, Issue 1, 2008
Author Wilhelm Van RensburgSource: Education as Change 12, pp 1 –2 (2008)More Less
Pierre Lévy's Collective Intelligence: Mankind's Emerging World in Cyberspace (1997) constitutes a philosophical turn in the field of computers, if not metaphysical or utopian. Lévy conceives of the computerisation of society as part of a process of evolution that inevitably leads "towards the creation of a new medium of communication, thought and work for human societies." For Lévy, the computer, and its associated communication technologies, is creating a "nomadic" culture in which cognitive prostheses "are transforming our intellectual capabilities as clearly as the mutations of our generic heritage." The spell checker on a word processing system, for instance, makes us 'perfect spellers". Likewise, a grammar checking system perfects our subject-verb agreements.
Discursive constructions of medical students' identities in informal course-based online discussionsSource: Education as Change 12, pp 3 –14 (2008)More Less
Studies into student identity have tended to focus on formal academic writing for assessment purposes. However, this is beginning to change with a shifting academic and semiotic landscape. More and more tertiary institutions are making use of the writing opportunities afforded by the online environment. Online forums are popular as they promote interaction and discussion among students. This change in the academic landscape has allowed for new approaches to studying the discursive constructions of student identity. Using critical discourse analysis, this paper explores how students construct their identities in informal course-based online discussions in Higher Education. It focuses on the various discourses medical students draw on and the language of online communication in identity construction. By providing a site for students to interact with each other, these online discussions provide for a more active curriculum where students are involved in the meaning-making process.
Source: Education as Change 12, pp 15 –27 (2008)More Less
In this study we focus on the development of the critical outcomes of the South African National Curriculum Statement via a generative use of computers approach developed within a framework of learning as design, Csikszentmihalyi's notion of optimal flow and Activity Theory. The strategy aimed at introducing a sense of novelty, developing cooperation, providing a structure to analyse data and solve problems, as well as enabling learners to use technology. Data were generated via a questionnaire, interviews, learner journals, observational notes, learner artefacts and evaluation reports. These data suggest that the generative use of computers within a hypermedia project-based learning approach was successful in terms of helping to develop Grade 6 learners to be creative-critical-effective problem solvers, collaborators, responsible persons, collectors and analyzers of information, effective communicators and informed and skilled users of science and technology. Although not an explicit objective of the project, it became apparent that the learners had also developed a higher level of awareness of the notion of audience and significance of evidence during the course of the intervention. The dynamics of the strategy are considered in the light of Activity Theory as applied to ICT integrated classrooms.
Source: Education as Change 12, pp 29 –44 (2008)More Less
In this paper we consider the perceptions of learning of Grade 10 Mathematical Literacy students in an inner-city Johannesburg school. Data collected from a questionnaire given to all Mathematical Literacy learners and interviews with a sample of learners confirmed that highly negative experiences of learning Mathematics had been transformed into highly positive perceptions of learning Mathematical Literacy across 2006 - the first year of the subject's implementation in schools. Our analysis of features that figured within this shift in learners' experiences led to the identification of contrast within the nature of tasks and the nature of interaction that provided openings for enhanced participation, communication, and understanding and sense making. In this paper, we argue that such contrasts appear to be necessary to break with negative prior experiences and further, that 'designing in' contrasts in tasks and interaction may be an important part of the message to give to Mathematical Literacy educators if they are to change the negative prior experiences of mathematics learning of many Mathematical Literacy learners.
Author L.C. TheronSource: Education as Change 12, pp 45 –65 (2008)More Less
Does Life Orientation speak to the needs of learners who live and learn in townships? The answer is a partial yes as revealed by the Batsha-Life Orientation study which documents Grade 9 township learner opinion of the learning area Life Orientation. This documentation is based on survey research (n = 934) in Gauteng; North-West and Free State provinces and on group interviews with 80 of these learners. The results of the study suggest that whilst Life Orientation is meaningful, its curriculum should be more contextually relevant and that learner consultation should ideally be encouraged to determine such relevance.
Improving success rates of first-year Economics students by means of a summer school programme - an evaluationSource: Education as Change 12, pp 67 –79 (2008)More Less
The high failure rate of first-year Economics students has become a concern at most South African universities. It affects the throughput of students and has financial implications for the institution as well as the students. At academic departmental level it may impact on the number of students who consider continuing their studies in Economics. At the beginning of 2007, Stellenbosch University (in the Western Cape, South Africa) launched a pilot summer school with the aim of improving students' learning outcomes and pass rates. Techniques used were geared towards actively involving the students in their own learning process. Various authors indicate the importance of active learning for student performance. This may include techniques such as in-class experiments and the writing of assignments. The case study presented in this paper investigates these techniques. The summer school programme combined traditional lectures and interactive learning approaches, primarily co-operative learning (through small tutorial sessions) and writing tasks, thereby ensuring active participation by students. The results achieved in the summer school (a pass rate of 89%) provide a justification to explore the success of this structured approach for future applications.
Author Judith ReynoldsSource: Education as Change 12, pp 81 –93 (2008)More Less
Inequalities in primary and secondary education affect the ability of some students to gain access to tertiary education. The main way that these issues have been addressed by higher education institutions in South Africa is through foundation programmes. Although these programmes have similar goals, their curricula vary widely between and within institutions. This paper briefly overviews a range of academic development models and changes in Foundation Programmes in South Africa. It then looks at the shift in the Humanities Foundation Programme at Rhodes University from a separate, English for Academic Purposes (EAP) course to a more integrated, discipline-specific model in which two mainstream courses are supported by Academic Development lecturers. The shift from a separate to a semi-integrated course is described in terms of the changes in curriculum, focussing on alignment both within the curricula, and alignment of the foundation courses with mainstream curricula. The conclusion is that the new augmented course has gained alignment with mainstream curricula at the expense of internal alignment.
Source: Education as Change 12, pp 95 –107 (2008)More Less
The dilemma of pupils not learning to read on a desirable level seems to be universal and finding possible causes and solutions for this predicament is an ongoing process. In this article we focus on the reading attitudes and habits of Namibian and Norwegian pupils, in the hope to shed some light on this world-wide phenomenon. A survey, using questionnaires and including 155 Grade 6 pupils was used for data collection. Since the sample was relatively small, it was not expected that we would find statistically significant results that could be generalised. The aim was rather to identify general tendencies, similarities and differences, based on selected variables. These findings could form a basis for further research in the area of reading culture. The variables that seemed to have the greatest impact on reading habits and attitudes was gender, availability of reading materials at home, the telling of stories and reading by parents, as well as primary home language. Clear differences were also found amongst the regions included in the study.
Source: Education as Change 12, pp 109 –131 (2008)More Less
Despite legal and constitutional provisions prohibiting sexual harassment in schools, there seems to be a culture of silence and acceptance surrounding harassment. The aim of this article is to give a voice to some of the victims. A simultaneous mixed method approach was considered the most suitable to achieve the aim of this study. A self-reporting questionnaire was completed by 474 Grade 8-12 learners. The study found that verbal and non-verbal peer harassment was common in some Free State schools. It was furthermore found that boys experience more verbal, nonverbal and physical sexual harassment by their peers, than girls. The study also found that educator-to-learner sexual harassment, albeit to a lesser extent than peer harassment, is a reality in some Free State schools. Although 73,55% of victims told somebody about their abuse, they preferred not to speak to their educators. The qualitative data not only corroborated the statistical findings pertaining to the respondents' exposure to different forms of harassment, but also shed light on sexual harassment as an embodiment of hegemonic forms of masculinity, the characteristics of sexual harassment, as well as myths surrounding sexual harassment.
Source: Education as Change 12, pp 133 –149 (2008)More Less
Generating theory that is grounded in semi-structured interviews, field work observations, case study notes, or other forms of textual documentation has become a widely-used approach in social science research. The popularity of grounded theory stems from the opportunities it provides to describe a formal set of methods or procedures that guide a systematic approach at the various stages of the study -data development, its analysis and outcomes. In this paper, I reflect on my own experiences in using grounded theory in a study of six beginning teachers in Malawi. I use the preliminary findings from this study to illustrate and reflect on the processes of the initial work of open coding and the constant comparison of codes during the sifting, sorting and developing of categories. My aim is to show how the reading of the research literature informed and helped in the decision-making during these processes. Finally, I present the theoretical framework that was developed from the study, and discuss what I learnt and the notions that I resolved and the methods I adopted in the process of conducting the study.
Source: Education as Change 12, pp 151 –167 (2008)More Less
The international notion of ''quality education for all'' initiated the restructuring of the former South African education system. Transformation has lived through its growing pains, resulting in numerous teachers desperately in need of development concerning outcomes-based assessment. To a large extent, quality in an organisation depends on the leader who has to create a culture for continuous improvement and redress by creating opportunities for staff development and support. A preliminary study revealed that Free State teachers need support and guidance to improve assessment in schools. However, official South African documentation has not assigned leaders in schools to facilitate and manage the quality of assessment. The purpose of this paper is to reveal the relationship between the principal's task to guide the empowerment process and the extent to which teachers perceive improvement of their assessment competencies. In order to reveal possible relationships, a questionnaire was developed and completed by both principals and teachers. A correlation analysis revealed a positive relationship between the principals' empowerment practices and the perceived improvement of classroom assessment. From the latter relationships it became evident that leadership focusing on the development and redress of teachers' assessment competencies contributes towards creating an aligned teaching corps, enhancing the quality of teaching and learning.
Primary Education in Crisis : Why South African schoolchildren underachieve in reading and mathematics, Brahm Fleisch : book reviewAuthor Hamsa VenkatSource: Education as Change 12, pp 169 –170 (2008)More Less
Brahm Fleisch's recent book - 'Primary Education in Crisis' - is centred on a consideration of the nature and pattern of under achievement in reading and mathematics in South African primary schools. Having provided a detailed outline of this under achievement, the book moves onto a wide ranging analysis that cuts across educational, economic, political, health and cultural sectors, presenting factors that, according to significant bodies of evidence, suggest contribute to this pattern of under achievement in primary schools.